One of the more heartbreaking and infuriating headlines of the past few days has come from New York City. Last Friday, five NYPD officers engaged with 43-year-old Eric Garner, who was stopped under suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes. The situation escalated with the officers smothering and choking the 400 pound man, who is seen and heard on video caught by bystanders, stating clearly, “I can’t breathe” nine times. Garner became unconscious at the scene, and shortly went into cardiac arrest and died at Richmond University Medical Center. The incident has outraged not just citizens of New York City, but has made headlines around the world. And for Spike Lee it has struck a clearly personal chord.
The director has quietly dropped a video response on his YouTube, and it’s powerful stuff. Lee mixes in footage of Radio Raheem’s eeriely similar death from “Do The Right Thing” with the actual footage from the incident involving Garner. The scene in Lee’s film is based on the real life case of Michael Stewart in 1983, adding another haunting note to this tragic story. Watch Lee’s video below along with the Garner footage. Warning: it’s tough stuff to view. [Slate]